Doing Good Does You Good

Posted on

image_printPrint Blog

What do we mean when we use the expression common sense? Is common sense the domain of the elderly? Not always. I have a friend whose grandfather purchased a truckload of fishing hooks! Grandma just about divorced him after that. And, she must have been a saint, for not long after the last of the fishermen traipsed through their home, he turned right around and bought a carload of buttons. Family lore had it that grandma, who was a seamstress, lived to such an old age because she never ran out of buttons.

Is common sense then, the natural inclination of the young? Well, anyone who has ever seen one of those reality TV shows where teenagers skateboard off railings or jump from garages and through tables (and in both cases, winding up in the emergency clinic), wouldn’t say that common sense is built into every kid’s psyche.


Old Age or Any Age

What we call “common sense” has very little to do with age. Common sense is often described as sound practical judgment. It sees things for what they are, not how we want things to be. Part of common sense is “good sense,” having a good reason to know better about a particular situation.

An unfortunate example of that statement is what is referred to as “buzzed driving.” According to the FBI, about 1.5 million drivers are annually arrested for driving under the influence. If that were not bad enough, about 112 million drivers divulged that they were alcohol-impaired at some point in the last year (and got away with it).

Most buzzed drivers know they’re tipsy and decide to push their luck. Worse, many of those who ride with them, are also engaged in trying to get away with something. It might be said that all of them lacked the good sense to do what was right at the moment.

While having good sense is essential, common sense is more far-reaching and more encompassing. Common sense is the flexibility of thought in all matters.


Be Strong Enough To Stand Alone

We can apply common sense to any scenario. We use common sense whether it is avoiding people who like to drive drunk or staying away from co-workers who may be cutting corners or even sharing gossip. Good reason tells us something isn’t right or should be avoided, but common sense tells us what we need to do to correct the situation.

In every situation, we can cultivate common sense by removing ourselves from a situation that doesn’t feel right, not over-thinking our responses, trusting that we are making the right decision by listening to our inner voice, accepting that we might be wrong and having the courage to walk away from how others may see us.

Using the “buzzed driving” scenario, in cultivating common sense, it is fine to walk away from situations that don’t feel right, and even if it should result in ridicule or being accused of being wrong, we should not mind. It is easy to go along with the crowd and not always pleasant to be thought of like a wet blanket, but common sense often flies in the face of what “feels right” or as a cure for egos and bravado.

In another example, a friend once confided that his co-workers were padding their expense accounts. Their rationale was that “everybody does it.” My friend did not. My friend said, “I was out of work for several months, and I was fortunate to land this job. I won’t jeopardize it.”

What he was doing was listening to his inner voice. He trusted his instincts and accepted that a scenario where people who were intentionally cheating their company could not be trusted. He moved away from those co-workers.

In time, there was an internal audit by the accounting department. The co-workers who padded their expense accounts were terminated. In time, he got promoted. Was it because he did the right thing? In part, yes, but he did more than applying common sense to his work, he enriched himself.

Ultimately common sense demands that we must treat every situation as a circumstance where no one is watching. It is doing right when others have taken a different path. Common sense allows us to live our best lives; authentic, decent and genuine experiences. It eventually attests that doing good does you good!



For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.